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For many girls, sexual harassment is a very real threat due to caste and gender acting against them. Here’s what young people had to say.
For girls from disadvantaged backgrounds, sexual harassment is a very real threat due to caste and gender both stacked against them. Here’s what young people had to say.
This is a real story, a story somewhere in rural Maharashtra. It revolves around two 10-year-old girls, let’s call them Geeta and Seema, hailing from poor families. They are from a background where the basic necessities of life are met with difficulty. Plus, society and the community discriminates against them on the basis of their caste and gender.
Geeta and Seema used to be harassed by a few teenage boys whenever they used to go to their friend’s place, fetch water or do other chores out of their homes. Life became difficult for them as they would be harassed by those boys at every step. The boys belonged to influential families of the village and hence no one dared to act against them. Gradually the harassment started to take a physical turn and one day the boys molested these little girls. The girls became scared and complained to their parents.
The girls’ parents approached the police, seeking help. However, the police took no action. The boys belonged to influential families and in many villages, such influential families, based on their money, power, and caste, generally get away with such things. The families then approached the Panchayat. While the Panchayat was apologetic about the whole issue, they did not take any action either, and ultimately, the boys received no punishment.
Unfortunately, this is an all too common story.
Children form 40% of India’s population today. But how safe are they and how safe do they feel? Children in Difficult Circumstances (CIDC), such as those who live on the street or are from migrating families especially face severe discrimination and marginalisation.
Can we really solve the big problems we face without talking to those who face the worst of these problems?
Plan India, a noted global non-profit organisation has a strong commitment to supporting the 2030 SDGs through children’s rights, with a deep focus on equality for girls. Girls often suffer the worst discrimination – for instance, gender norms in our country dictate that when food is limited, the girl child gets the least of it. Moreover, girls also face gender-based violence in the form of molestation and harassment.
As part of its Plan for Every Child – Leave No Girl Behind initiative therefore, Plan India is bringing together young people from across the country to discuss these issues, think deeply, debate, and come up with strategies on how to combat the discrimination that girls face.
With this in mind, I was excited to join the Plan India debatathon in Mumbai, held in October 2017, where young people from various colleges came together to meaningfully discuss both the challenges, and possible solutions. Selected youth representatives from the states will also participate in the National Conference on Plan for Every Child to take these solutions to a national level. The youth carried out the deliberations accessing the data currently in the public domain on various issues faced by girls.
My role was to observe, listen to and learn from the voices of these enthusiastic participants, and it turned out to be a true learning experience.
The first debatathon session began with us listening to the real-life incident from rural Maharashtra mentioned earlier in this article. It highlights how biases against girls work and are strengthened by those in power.
When this all too common story was presented to the young people attending the session, they had much to think over and say. Both boys and girls from various institutions, backgrounds, and communities were asked about their opinion and to discuss what could be done in such situations. They were asked to think from the perspective of the family of the girls, the community, as well as the government.
It was interesting to see various opinions and the youths’ perspective. Most of the participants agreed that the community and government had a major role to play in terms of both implementing stricter laws and taking action against the molesters and perpetrators.
The girls especially wanted to be given more freedom and felt that it was unjust on the part of the community to impose all restrictions on the girls and let the boys do whatever they wished to. They also felt strongly that the perpetrators shouldn’t be judged on the basis of their power, position or caste. Some also narrated how they had seen or heard about such incidents in their own communities and neighbourhoods, and they felt that rural areas still had these issues rampant.
From the debates, it was clear that there is also more education needed for young people about the laws related to cases of harassment, molestation, and rape; whom to approach and when to approach is also something that many of the students needed more clarity on.
The youth are our future and it was good to see that they wanted to bring changes about both in terms of the mindset as well as practical and stricter action from government bodies. They were also vocal about the need for gender equality in society so that girls can live a life free of the fear of perpetrators.
Many of the demands were encapsulated in this state youth charter that was presented to the Maharashtra State Commission for Protection of Child Rights. Some of the key recommendations were:
Clearly, these young people understand the value of education for gender equality, and of starting it young!
The Plan for Every Child – Leave No Girl Behind campaign has a long-term vision towards creating a more equitable world for the girl child, and especially, for girls in difficult circumstances.
If you would like to be a part of this initiative, and help create a more just world for all our girls, learn more about this initiative and you can become a volunteer or donate to support Plan India’s valuable work.
This article is part of the #LeaveNoGirlBehind campaign supported by Plan India, of which Women’s Web is a proud media partner.
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I am a travel expert by profession and an avid blogger by passion. Parenting and women's issues are something that are close to my heart and I blog a lot about them. read more...
Women's Web is an open platform that publishes a diversity of views, individual posts do not necessarily represent the platform's views and opinions at all times.
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What I loved was how there is so much in the movie of the SRK we have known, and also a totally new star. The gestures, the smile, the wit and the charisma are all too familiar, but you also witness a rawness, an edginess.
When a movie that got the entire nation in a twist – for the right and wrong reasons – hits the theatres, there is bound to be noise. From ‘I am going to watch it – first day first show’ to ‘Boycott the movie and make it a flop’, social media has been a furore of posts.
Let me get one thing straight here – I did not watch Pathaan to make a statement or to simply rebel as people would put it. I went to watch it for the sheer pleasure of witnessing my favourite superstar in all his glory being what he is best at being – his magnificent self. Because when it comes to screen presence, he burns it, melts it and then resurrects it as well like no other. Because when it comes to style and passion, he owns it like a boss. Because SRK is, in a way, my last connecting point to the girl that I once was. Though I have evolved into so many more things over the years, I don’t think I am ready to let go of that girl fully yet.
There is no elephant in the room really here because it’s a fact that Bollywood has a lot of cleaning up to do. Calling out on all the problematic aspects of the industry is important and in doing that, maintaining objectivity is also equally imperative. I went for Pathaan for entertainment and got more than I had hoped for. It is a clever, slick, witty, brilliantly packaged action movie that delivers what it promises to. Logic definitely goes flying out of the window at times and some scenes will make you go ‘kuch bhi’ , but the screenplay clearly reminds you that you knew all along what you were in for. The action sequences are lavish and someone like me who is not exactly a fan of this genre was also mind blown.
Recent footage of her coming out of an airport had comments preaching karma and its cruel ways, that Samantha "deserved her illness" because she filed for divorce.
Samantha Ruth Prabhu fell from being the public’s sweetheart to a villain overnight because she filed for divorce. The actress was struck with myositis post divorce, much to the joy of certain groups (read sexist) in our society.
A troll responded to Samantha’s tweet, “Women Rising!!” by adding to it “just to fall”. She replied, “Getting back up makes it all the more sweeter, my friend.”
Here’s another insensitive tweet by BuzZ Basket showing fake concern for her autoimmune disease. “Feeling sad for Samantha, she lost all her charm and glow. When everyone thought she came out of divorce strongly and her professional life was seeing heights, myositis hit her badly, making her weak again.” Samantha responded, “I pray you never have to go through months of treatment and medication like I did. And here’s some love from me to add to your glow.”
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